Oil & Gas companies, having in-depth know-how of petrol stations, or Utilities, with their expertise of electricity, would have seem more likely candidates in designing the most innovative service station.
The development of electric vehicles (EV) – 50 to 80 million EVs in stock by 2025 (worldwide) forecasted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) – will drive a drastic impact on the way we “fuel” them.
Today it’s almost impossible to fill the tank of your car at home or at the office, but if you use an EV you are able to charge it in these locations. You will therefore have a lesser need for the service station that you used to visit frequently.
For those who won’t have the ability to charge their cars where they live or where they work, several solutions exist in urban areas: charging stations on the street, in parking lots or shopping centers… But it’s not enough. In cities, motorways or in rural areas, service stations will still be needed.
For many years to come, they will have to be hybrid, petrol and electricity cohabiting. But with far less tanks to fill, their traditional business model will be impacted. To remain profitable, new services will have to be created.
Some innovators are already building pure EV service stations, close to highways where the traffic will bring larger numbers of customers.
Surprisingly, they are not Utilities or Oil & Gas companies who should have a strong competitive advantage with their knowledge and expertise.
Two of the companies spearheading the new generation of service stations are quite different.
In the UK, GRIDSERVE is a developer and operator of solar energy and energy storage solutions. They created an Electric Forecourt® bringing together charging stations, convenience retail, coffee shop and wifi lounge.
The first of their planned 100 locations is getting close to completion in Essex. It will provide the ability to use 30 chargers (rapid chargers and Tesla Superchargers) powered by clean energy coming from their solar energy and battery storage projects. It’s already quite innovative and with the experience of the first Electric Forecourt®, their model will probably evolve further.
The other massive car charging park being built in Europe is even more amazing.
In Germany, the Seed and Greet Park, near Dusseldorf, is developed by a baker, Schϋren.
They may not be energy specialists but they understand everything about customer journeys, smart integration of energy production and use. Their strength: making sure complementary and innovative solutions come together with the highest benefit: EV charging, solar PV, wind, storage, biomass, waste heat re-use, water recovery…
At the end of construction of the project, 114 charging points from different providers will be operational, including 44 for the customers and employees of the bakery. When most are in activity it could represent a massive electricity load.
On the electricity production side, 700kW of PV arrays are being installed as well as two small wind turbines. A 2 MWh battery storage system will store the surplus and power the facility when needed.
While their vehicles are charging, customers will be able to enjoy the bakery products, cooked in a biomass-fired oven. Rain and process water are being re-used, as well as the heat coming from the cooking process and from a geothermal heat pump system.
By 2022, some fruits and salads used in the preparation will be grown in the vertical farm being built, next to a new office building, both using the energy infrastructure of the bakery and its charging station.
This is a great example of sustainability in action. Energy (and water) consumption is optimized, re-used as much as possible and part of what remains, produced from on-site installations and processes.
Of course, the Schϋren model can’t be replicated for every service station along a motorway but it should be an inspiration. The energy transition challenge also has to be tackled based on the value of ecosystems created by different entities geographically close, their interactions and the complementarity of their energy needs and production capacity.
(Sources: sites internet de GRIDSERVE, Backer Schüren, Tesvolt, Energy Storage News; IEA Global EV Outlook 2020; source de l’illustration : Tesvolt)